Liam Craig today insisted Hibs boss Pat Fenlon is reaping the rewards for his refusal to panic as the Easter Road outfit made a miserable start to the season.
Europa League humiliation at the hands of Swedish side Malmo, followed by defeats in the opening two games of the Scottish Premiership campaign, put Fenlon under pressure, with calls for the Irishman to be axed. Fenlon, however, refused to buckle and, with chairman Rod Petrie making it clear their would be no knee-jerk reaction in the face of adversity, Hibs have now moved up to joint fourth in the table and into the quarter-finals of the League Cup, suffering just one defeat in their last seven matches.
Having gone through a similar scenario at St Johnstone a year ago – the McDiarmid Park club knocked out of the Europa League at the first time of asking by Turkish side Eskisehirspor before failing to win any of their opening five league matches only to end up third – Craig was in no doubt Hibs would also turn things round.
He said: “You do not panic and there was certainly no panic at St Johnstone. Refreshingly, the chairman [Steve Brown] stood by the manager [Steve Lomas] because he knew his capabilities and we were repaid at the end of the season.
“Here the manager and Jimmy Nicholl were brilliant, they kept the place bubbly and they are getting their rewards now. We are a close group of players and I think that is showing in the performances. Look at the Partick Thistle game, things were not going well but we stuck together and ground out a result. We will probably play better this season and lose games. It’s difficult to go away from home and win so for us to have won three away games already is great credit to everyone, but now it is important we get back to Easter Road and win some more.
“We’ve won our last two, against St Mirren and Stranraer, but we have to make Easter Road a hard place to come.”
The win at Firhill came courtesy of Craig’s sixth goal of the season but, as happy as he might be, the former Falkirk player insisted he took even greater pleasure from seeing his team winning.
He said: “I am delighted to get that many goals so early on in the season, but the pleasing thing is to have won a few games after a shaky start.
“We have bounced back well and we are sitting nicely going in to the international break with two home games to come. In the last few seasons I have scored seven or eight and when I came here I set out to get into double figures. It’s nice to be the leading goal-scorer at the moment but a lot of credit has to go to the team.
“Zouby [Abdellah Zoubir] set up the goal the other night, Viney [Rowan Vine] has set up a few, Robbo [Scott Robertson] has scored as well while James Collins and Paul Heffernan are getting goals.”